Robbie Sutton, University of Kent: "When worlds divide: The stark difference between believing life is fair to you and believing it is fair to others".
Wednesday 17th December at 3pm, in room 302-303.
"The belief in a just world" (BJW) has been regarded as a double-edged sword that confers psychological benefits but promotes the legitimization of illegitimate social practices. It has also been regarded as an outcome of "the justice motive" - a deep-seated desire to believe in justice that develops in childhood. In contrast, the
present studies suggest that different types of just-world belief have different consequences and serve different motives. In particular, the belief in a just world for self (BJW-self) is psychometrically distinct from, and only moderately correlated with, the same belief for others (BJW-others). BJW-self but not BJW-others predicts
physical health, psychological adjustment, intentions to reduce carbon emissions, and confidence in the future. Conversely, BJW-others but not BJW-self predicts legitimization of the status quo (e.g., by derogating the poor). Similarly, BJW-others appears uniquely to be underpinned by epistemic motives, responding to the need for cognitive closure in experiments and correlational studies. Not only are these spheres of BJW functionally independent; they are sometimes
functionally antagonistic to each other. For example, delinquent intentions among at-risk youths, values associated with the enhancement of self at the expense of others, and the desire for vengeance as opposed to forgiveness are each negatively related to BJW-self but positively related to BJW-others. BJW-others therefore
appears to help individuals actors legitimize their own self-serving behavior, whereas BJW-self delegitimizes it. The study of the human need for justice, and many other social-psychological phenomena besides, would benefit from taking into